Alexis has been coming to SUUSI for many, many years. Here he shares the story of his first SUUSI.
My first SUUSI was in 1973, held at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. After registration on Sunday and dinner, following a light rainfall, I went for a walk around the campus, armed with my map to help identify class and meeting locations. I found the auditorium where we would all meet that night for the opening ceremony. Hearing music from inside, I entered, sat in the back and watched the activity on the stage.
Seated in the middle of a semi-circle of maybe 20 kids, was a woman playing her autoharp and teaching the chorus of the song, Love Is A Circle, a standard in UU religious education at the time — hopefully today also. I found out later they would perform Sunday night at what we now call the “Ingathering”.
Love is a circle, it knows no bounds,
the more you give, the more comes around.
Love is ours alone to give,
It lives in us, it’s beautiful.
It was the first time I had heard the song, and Pam Phelps, with the kids, impressed me to know I was in the right place.
Little did I know that Sunday, I would be on the same stage on Friday night for “Show Off Time”, which featured skits, crafts and music from workshops.
I had signed up for a workshop in Blowing Rock, constructing a church dulcimer from a kit. The church dulcimer is truly a folk instrument and has an extra bass string which acts as a drone. The story is the instrument served as a substitute for a church organ in the hills of Appalachia.
We had just put the frets on the dulcimers on Friday afternoon and strings finished them up. I was able to pick out a tune and class members drafted me to play that night to show off what we had accomplished.
It was a very nervous fellow who walked out on the stage, explained what I had learned about the instrument and played (?) Go Tell Aunt Rhody on the brand new dulcimer. It was my first time performing solo on stage and SUUSI gave me the opportunity and encouragement to continue.
With luck, pleasure and privilege, I hope to sing with you Friday morning, as I have since the late 1970’s, closing the worship services with Ric Masten’s Let It Be A Dance.
I hope your first SUUSI will be full of wonderful experiences, as mine was — and continues to be, 44 years later.